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John Cheetham Laidlaw was born in the first quarter of 1892. He was the son of James and Jane Laidlaw and arrived with his father in Liverpool from Hawick, Scotland in 1898 when he was six years old. His father, James was born in Scotland and was working in Bolton as a confectioner, described on one census as a working for a ‘fancy cake maker’. His mother, Jane, was from Manchester and died in 1898. John had six siblings, three of which were older brothers William, Arthur and John.

By the time of the 1901 census James and his four sons lived at 27 Gurth Street, Bolton. He employed a 60 year old domestic servant named Susannah Greenhough.

By 1911 the family had moved to 26 Gordon Avenue. John was now 19 and was employed as a machine minder in a bleach works. All of the children were born in Bolton and they are all described on the census as being ‘half-Scottish’. Their servant, now 70 year old Susannah was still living with them.

John Cheetham Laidlaw married Alice (nee Wilcockson) in the third quarter of 1914. They lived together at his father’s home on Gordon Avenue. John and Alice became parents on 10th July 1915 when their son James was born.

John enlisted into the Territorial Army in Bolton on 2nd October 1915 and joined the 4/5th (Territorial) Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment with the number 7039. This number changed to 243043 when the Territorial Army was renumbered in 1917.

On the same day as he enlisted, John signed the Imperial and General Service Obligation document stating he agreed liability to serve in any place outside the United Kingdom during a National Emergency.


Whilst training for overseas service at Ashford he received two regimental entries for misconduct;

  • 28th January 1916 – ‘Not complying with an order i.e. not wearing full marching order when ordered’. Punishment: 2 days confined to barracks.
  • 29th March 1916 – ‘Having a dirty rifle on 9-15am parade’. Punishment: 3 days confined to barracks.

At Blackdown in November he received a third entry;

  • 29th November 1916 – ‘Absent from 6-45am parade’. Punishment: 2 days confined to barracks.

John qualified as a stretcher bearer and sailed to France to join the 1/5th (Territorial) Battalion in the field. In April 1917 he was admitted into No. 50 Casualty Clearing Station suffering from a skin complaint and received treatment for 5 days.

He was permitted leave to the UK from 17th February until 3rd March 1918. John and Alice conceived a child during this furlough of leave – whether he ever knew this it is impossible to say.

Private John Cheetham Laidlaw was killed in action on 29th May 1918. This was the final day of a 15 day stint in the trenches at Gommecourt.

John was 26 years old and was buried in the Couin New British Cemetery.

On 6th September 1918, Alice received John’s personal effects that had been sent home from France;

  • 1 x Identity Disc
  • Letters
  • Photographs
  • Wallet

Their daughter, Joan, was born on 4th November 1918. This was nine months and one day after John had returned to France and she was obviously named after him.

In December 1918 Alice began to receive a War Pension of 25/5 a week for herself and their two children.

During the summer of 1919 Alice married William Nuttall and was living at 30 Blackshaw Lane, Bolton. She would later take receipt of her late husband’s British War Medal and Allied Victory Medal, as well as the Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

Rank: Private
Service No: 243043
Date of Death: 29/05/1918
Age: 26
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st/5th Bn.

Paul McCormick
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3 Responses to 243043 PTE. J. C. LAIDLAW. L.N.LAN.R

  1. Samantha says:

    Remembrance with gratitude to a distant relative.

  2. I note that my grandad John Cheetham Laidlaw has ben noted as being born in Bolton, Lancashire,but this is not true. I found him on a census of 1911, and he arrived with my great grandad James Laidlaw in Liverpool from Hawick, Scotland in 1898 when John Cheetham was 6 years old. I have found that having looked into what happened to his brothers that James and William also died in the first world war whilst soldiers although with Scottish batallions, but I cannot find trace of a brother called John. There is mention on the census of a brother called Walter, although this must be a half brother as when he was born their mother Jane had already died. I am trying to trace what happened to him.

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